Mexico Likely to Legalize Marijuana By End of Month

Mexican lawmakers are working hard to meet a court-ordered deadline to legalize recreational marijuana by the end of October.

Come November, Mexico could become the third country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. Mexican Senate Leader Ricardo Monreal announced this week that he believes that his colleagues will approve adult-use cannabis legislation by the end of the month.

“We’re thinking that we’ll bring the law out, approve it, at the end of October,” Monreal said regarding legalization. “That’s the schedule we have.”

Mexico’s effort to legalize marijuana is actually constitutionally mandated. Last year, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s prohibition of personal possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis is unconstitutional. Moreover, they set a deadline of October 2019 by which a legalization bill needs to be passed by their Congress and signed into law.

Senator Julio Menchaca Salazar introduced a legalization bill last month that seeks to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework. Under Salazar’s bill, Mexico’s Department of Health would regulate the cultivation, processing, and transportation of cannabis.

In Mexico’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, leader Mario Delgado Carillo introduced a bill that would formally set up a legalized market whereby the government would have a state monopoly on cannabis sales. Carillo’s bill envisions a great deal of the revenue from marijuana sales going to social programs.

While a state-owned cannabis market might seem extreme in the United States, Mexico has had a state-owned oil company since the 1930s.

However, Monreal and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador disagree with Delgado and prefer a free-market approach.

Both chambers of the Mexican legislature are controlled by the MORENA Party, which President López founded. MORENA is a left-of-center political party that was founded in 2014.

Monreal says members of the Chamber of Deputies, the other half of Mexico’s legislature, will be invited to provide feedback on the legalization bill.

“The idea is to try to make the best law possible,” Monreal said. “We’ve spent hours and hours debating this issue in the Senate and we’re going to respectfully invite [deputies] so that they join us in the next debates.”

A series of open forums were recently held in the country that sought the public’s input.

Legal Marijuana a Long Time Coming for Mexico

After being given a deadline of a year to implement marijuana legislation, Mexican lawmakers now have to rush to see it passed by then. This past January, the Supreme Court sent a notice to Congress reminding them of their decision.

In a 4-1 ruling, the court found that cannabis had legitimate religious, medical, scientific, and recreational uses. It is actually not the first time the court made such a ruling, but rather the fifth which makes it legally binding under Mexican law.

In 2009, the Mexican Congress decriminalized possession of up to five grams of cannabis.

Medical marijuana was technically legalized in 2017, however, because regulations were not devised nor implemented, the program never truly went into effect.

If Mexico were to fulfill the court’s ruling, it will become the third country in the world to have legalized cannabis after Canada and Uruguay.

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